What Is The Tarot?

Let’s ask Alejandro Jodorowsky about the Tarot: What is the Tarot? The Tarot is the sum of the symbolic knowledge of the West. We could define it as an alphabet, where each card is a letter and these connect to form phrases. It is, in summary, a language for developing intuition. Which is its origin? It seems to have been born around the year 1000, but nobody knows who invented the Tarot, nor when, nor where. What this word means is unknown also, and to what language it belongs. It is born or Christianity, Judaism and Islam… Why do you say that the Tarot is a holly art? All symmetrical art is profane. The human body is not symmetrical either: in the right side our lung has three lobes, in the left side, two lobes. In the Tarot, the top half is never identical to the bottom half, nor is the left side identical to the right side. There is always a small detail that breaks the resemblance. How many letters does this alphabet have and how are they organized? We are faced with an optical alphabet, formed by 78 cards, a true visual encyclopedia. Where knowledge is transmitted, not by sounds, but by figures, shapes and colors. Each one of the cards, or letters, has a single meaning? Each card of the Tarot has a thousand different explanations, nothing is fixed. The enemy of the Tarot is narrow interpretation, ignorance… What is a reading basically? The Arcana that appear in a spread configure the mirror of the consultant’s soul at that present moment; it is a phenomenon of synchronicity by which he/she picks those cards and not others. A reading consists in the convergence of three chances: the one that takes the consultant before me, the one that takes me before the consultant and the moment in which the cards are picked. What kind of questions can be asked? Most of the questions people ask have to do with childhood trauma. The Tarot is an instrument, a psychological test to understand where the blockage is and find the explanation in each one’s past. It shows us the consultant’s unconscious and, if it can help him/her, it helps him/her. Up to what point can you interpret? There are people who don’t want to know the reason for their pain; they just want you to calm that pain. When realizing a Tarot reading, one must get only up to where the person wants you to get. You know by their expression, their resistances, we have no right to go beyond that. The human being has limits which, although painful, he is identified with. How is it structured? It was drawn by a supreme consciousness, it is mathematically exact. The units of measure correspond to each other: the Hermit’s cane, for example, is of the same length as death’s, as the Empress’ scepter, etc. No detail was left to chance. If I want to learn how to use it, where can I start? When you want to learn a language, it is necessary to learn its grammar. I believe that if someone is interested in the Tarot it is necessary for him or her to see each card detail by detail, color by color, shape by shape, comparing ones to others and memorizing them: it is necessary that the Tarot enter the unconscious completely with the particularities of each drawing. This effort is the same as the monks’ who memorized the Gospel or of the religious Jews who memorized the Torah. Why do it? Because that way the book once again enters the unconscious and that will create analogies, references; the whole text will begin to speak in a different way and will find itself vibrating at unison with it. The Tarot is like a big orchestra: when one instrument sounds, the others vibrate. Which is its utility in essence? The greatest learning is to “learn to look, not try to divine the future, but to understand the present.” The Tarot doesn’t cure, it simply helps to evolve. You say you use tarology. Which is the difference with cartomancy? Cartomancy is used to divine the future and tarology speaks of the present. The Tarot does not predict the future but it can make us think about our reality in a less rational way, and it will show us things that we know at an unconscious level, but that we cannot notice rationally. It is a doorway to our interior… Doesn’t it make more sense to ask about the future? Asking about the future reveals a fear of the present. Anyone who predicts the future to another, takes power over him or her because the brain is programmable, it tends to fulfill predictions. Where does that reading lead us? The Tarot serves for the person to relate to themselves. Not to hurt, nor attack, nor unmask, entering a new way of thinking. With the Tarot we detect any problem…people defend themselves and if you want to help them, you must advance towards their being, as if navigating through the North Pole, dodging icebergs which are their defenses. And then what do we do with the problem? Then, with psychogenealogy we can find the origin of it. But becoming conscious of the problem is not the same as curing it, one must act. That is why I invented psychomagic which is the act of healing, a metaphor to the unconscious. Is the Tarot an objective, scientific language? The Tarot of Marseille is designed in such a way that the answer is always subjective. It is like the Rorschach inkblot: each one sees what they want. And what they can. Speaking of the cards’ meanings is like speaking of quicksand, there are infinite possibilities. The vision our transmit us changes according to the level of consciousness that we develop. The cards are more positive each time if our spirit grows and more negative each time if it goes towards self destruction. Which is the difference between the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana? A pyramid begins with a wide base and ends on a single top stone. The summit of the Tarot are the 22 Major Arcana which contain the high spiritual meanings. But to achieve their knowledge, it is necessary for them to be based on the humble 56 Minor Arcana. These speak about quotidian life (needs, desires, emotions and thoughts). The four suits are like the four legs of an altar, or a table, or the four walls of a temple. What can you say about the 22 Major Arcana? The Arcana have multiple meanings which go from particular to general, from evident to unusual. These meanings acquire greater or lesser importance according to the cultural system of the person who interprets them. Some questions about the meaning of some cards: Arcane XV of the Tarot of Marseille, The Devil, is full of eyes. Why? It means it is not afraid to see itself. If we don’t develop a courageous humility that makes us capable of observing our defects, our weaknesses, our sloth, our cowardice, we will never become fulfilled people. What can we say about The Sun, Arcane XVIIII? “The Sun is good for any new construction, it indicates that unconditional love acts and foretells success based on a warm and enlightened path. It is also an indication of a new life, leaving behind difficulties of the past; the finding of a soul mate, the signing of a good contract”. Something brief about Arcane XXI, the last of the Major Arcana, The World. At the end of the reading, it is maximum fulfillment. A balanced being has developed all four elements: intellectual, emotional, libidinal and material. Finally, a question that can interest many readers, is it possible to read the Tarot to oneself? It is enough to have a deck at hand, that is easy, but at the same time it is the hardest thing in the world to be consultant and interpreter simultaneously because one is faced with his or her own resistances. A self-reading is a formidable school for deepening and humility that allows us to know our own defenses and develop intuition. To read the Tarot to oneself, there is a basic postulate: I don’t know myself at present. Therefore, asking myself about my situation, about my present, is essential.


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